A Lover of Books

Archive for the month “January, 2017”

Guest Post by Wendy Clarke


I’d like to introduce you all to Wendy Clarke.  Wendy has written and had lots of short stories published in various magazines.  I invited her to write a guest post for my blog.


When I tell people that I write short stories for magazines, there are three things they always want to know: what made me start writing, why I chose magazines and where I get my ideas from. I’ll start my post by answering these questions.

Unlike many magazine writers, I started writing later in life. Despite loving creative writing at school, and enjoying teaching it in the classroom, it had never occurred to me that I might one day make it my career. It took an unfortunate event (the closing down of the school where I taught) and an online writing course, to show me my new path.

It was my course tutor who suggested I try submitting some stories to magazines. The course had just finished and, feeling bereft at not having a weekly piece of writing to submit, I decided to give it a go. At first, I had the expected rejections but I didn’t let it put me off. I carried on writing and I carried on submitting then, three months later, I had a letter from the People’s Friend saying they liked one of my stories… hurray! This was followed by a sale to Take a Break Fiction Feast and Woman’s Weekly.

That was the start and, four years on, I’m still writing for them all and have had around two hundred stories and two serials published. I still find it hard to believe!

Moving on to where I get my ideas… I get them everywhere. My friends will tell you that we’ll be having a conversation and I’ll suddenly shout, “Wait! I have to write that down!” This will be followed by a frantic scrabbling for my notebook. I get ideas from conversations, newspaper articles, things I’ve seen, memories, poems… even meeting Mary Berry. The list is endless. At present, I have around thirty ideas in my notebook I haven’t used yet.

Despite my notebook, there are sometimes frustrating times when I can’t think what to write or just don’t feel in the mood. If this happens, I don’t try and force it. Instead, I’m kind to myself and allow myself to have a couple of days off from writing. This helps to recharge my batteries and fill up the writing well again.

So why do I love writing short stories? For a start, I love that there are so many different people’s heads I can be in, so many places I can visit and so many adventures I can have. One day, I might be a twenty-year old girl on holiday in Greece and the next a male taxi driver picking up a fare in London. It’s never boring! I also like the excitement of making a sale and seeing the story in print (often with a lovely illustration). A selection of my published magazine stories can be found in my collection, The Last Rose.


If I have any advice for a new writer hoping to break into the market it would be this:

  • Write the best you can
  • Study the market but write what you would like to read
  • Grow a thick skin (believe me, you will be rejected!)
  • Don’t give up
  • Write for love, not money

Which leads me to my final point. Enjoy your writing… if there’s not pleasure in it, there’s little point in doing it!


About Wendy Clarke

Wendy lives in West Sussex with her husband, cat and badly behaved dog. She has written around two hundred stories and two serials for national women’s magazines and is a regular fiction writer for The People’s Friend. She has also written several articles for Writing Magazine. Wendy is a member of the RNA NWS and has just finished her first novel. She has published two collections of short stories, Room in Your Heart and The Last Rose.



Blog – http://wendyswritingnow.blogspot.co.uk/

Facebook –   https://www.facebook.com/wendy.sargent.376

Twitter – @WendyClarke99 

Amazon – https://www.amazon.co.uk/Last-Rose-Stories-family-friendship-ebook/dp/B00U1WBAC4



Blog Tour – ‘Ledston Luck’ by Andrew Barrett


‘Ledston Luck’ was published on the 18th January. It is the fourth book in the CSI Eddie Collins series. Today is the last day of the blog tour and I am finishing it off with my review.

When a corpse is discovered in a long-abandoned chapel, CSI Eddie Collins and the police get much more than they bargained for. The body is booby-trapped which results in CSI Eddie Collins and DI Benson being injured and one of their team killed. Eddie is absolutely heartbroken, full of guilt and most of all he’s angry. He’ll find the murderer no matter what it takes.

This is the first book I have read by Andrew Barrett. Although ‘Ledston Luck’ is the fourth in the series it can be read as a standalone novel without any confusion. I thoroughly enjoyed ‘Ledston Luck’ and I thought it was very cleverly written. I was totally blown away by this story. It was fast-paced, gritty and extremely hard to put down. There were some really shocking revelations too.

I liked Eddie Collins and I felt sorry for what he went through. He reminded me a bit of a cat with nine lives as he escaped death on several occasions. I loved his humour too.  Some of the things he came out with when asked a question were funny.

There was quite a bit of violence throughout the story but I think it was necessary as it gives the reader a good idea why things happened the way they did.

I’m so glad I was given the opportunity to read and review ‘Ledston Luck’. I urge all fans of crime fiction to buy a copy of this book. I am really looking forward to seeing what Andrew Barrett comes up with next.

I give this book 5 out of 5.



About Andrew Barrett


Andrew Barrett has been writing best-selling thrillers since the mid 1990s, all set in northern England. He’s also written several short stories, and co-written a number of television scripts.

Andrew’s novels focus on the world of Crime Scene Investigators (CSIs). He offers a unique insight into this dark landscape, making good use of his expertise as a Senior CSI to envelop the reader in exciting yet realistic stories.

Included in each story are elements of dark humour and severe emotional highs and lows. So be prepared.



‘Ledston Luck’ is available to buy from Amazon UK:-


Andrew Barrett’s Website – http://www.andrew-barrett.co.uk

Facebook – http://www.facebook.com/AndrewBarrett.author/

Twitter – @AndrewBarrettUK


Blog Tour – ‘Little Girl Lost’ by Carol Wyer


‘Little Girl Lost’ was published by Bookouture on the 19th January. It is the first book in the DI Robyn Carter series. I am thrilled to be taking part in this blog tour for which I am reviewing the book. I received my copy from NetGalley.

Abigail appears to have the perfect life. She has it all; a doting husband and an adorable baby daughter. But is everything as it seems? Someone knows about her past and they won’t rest until the truth is told.

When baby Izzy is kidnapped from a car park, Detective Robyn Carter takes on the case. Her instincts tell her that there is a connection between Izzy’s abduction and two murders she is currently investigating. There is a serial killer at large and Robyn needs to find him or her before it’s too late.

Carol Wyer has written several humorous books and has now turned to crime. It seems she has found her dark side and I have to say I’m actually really impressed. I just loved Carol’s style of writing. There were so many twists and turns and some real shockers too. As I got more into the story I found myself getting totally hooked.

It took me a while to work out how all the characters were connected. Abigail was getting threatening messages and I spent ages trying to work out who was responsible for them and the murders. I ended up suspecting just about everyone at one point.

I really admired Robyn Carter. She had had a really tough time of things and needed to get back into a proper routine. I bet she never thought she would be taking on such a grisly case. Time was running out fast but Robyn was sure to be able to solve it. She had PC Mitz Patel and another officer helping her. I liked Mitz and thought he was rather sweet.

‘Little Girl Lost’ is a must read for fans of crime. I am really looking forward to DI Robyn Carter’s next case.

I give this book 5 out of 5.


About Carol Wyer


As a child Carol Wyer was always moving, and relied on humour to fit in at new schools. A funny short story won her popularity, planting the seed of becoming a writer. Her career spans dry cleaning, running a language teaching company, and boxercise coaching. Now writing full-time, Carol has several books published by Safkhet and journalism in many magazines.

Carol won The People’s Book Prize Award for non-fiction (2015), and can sometimes be found performing her stand-up comedy routine Laugh While You Still Have Teeth.



‘Little Girl Lost’ is available to buy from Amazon UK:-


Carol Wyer’s Website – http://www.carolewyer.co.uk


‘The Vets at Hope Green: Part One – Escape to the Country’ by Sheila Norton

‘The Vets at Hope Green’ is being published in four parts as eBooks by Ebury Press. Part One is out tomorrow. I liked the sound of this book and requested a copy to review from NetGalley.

Sam is a receptionist working for a vets practice in London. Life for her is far from ideal at the moment. She always seems to be broke, lives in a tiny rented flat and things with her boyfriend aren’t that great either. The worst part though is her career which seems to be going nowhere. Sam really wishes she could have more contact with the animals and would ideally like to be a vet. Something really needs to change and fast.

When Sam’s parents suggest that she visits her Nana Peggy in Hope Green, she agrees, thinking the break will do her good. But rest and relaxation may not be exactly what Sam gets.

This was such an enjoyable, warm and relaxing read. I really liked Sheila Norton’s style of writing. I loved reading about the animals and Hope Green. It sounded like a lovely little village and the ideal place to go to for a relaxing holiday.

I warmed to Sam instantly. I truly believe that most things happen for a reason and for Sam this was definitely the case. Her going to Hope Green to stay with her Nana was meant to be. I adored Nana Peggy, everyone’s favourite grandmother. She had lived in Hope Green for a very long time and knew just about everyone there. There were a number of other interesting characters too.

I am really looking forward to the next part of ‘The Vets at Hope Green’. I can’t wait to catch up with Sam and see what happens next.

I give this book 4 out of 5.


‘Part One: Escape to the Country’ is available from tomorrow:-


‘Part Two: Follow Your Heart’ is out on the 16th February 2017.  Pre-order here:-


‘Part Three: Too Close to Home’ is out on the 16th March 2017.  Pre-order here:-


‘Part Four: A New Start’ is out on the 13th April 2017.  Pre-order here:-



For those of you who would rather read this story in one go, ‘The Vets at Hope Green’ is being published in paperback and as an eBook on the 1st June 2017.  Here’s the pre-order link:-


Cover Reveal – ‘The Good Daughter’ by Alexandra Burt


I am thrilled to be revealing the cover of Alexandra Burt’s new book.  ‘The Good Daughter’ is out in paperback and as an eBook on the 23rd February 2017.  Here’s what its about:-


Book Blurb

What if you were the worst crime your mother ever committed?

Dahlia Waller’s childhood memories consist of stuffy cars, seedy motels, and a rootless existence traveling the country with her eccentric mother. Now grown, she desperately wants to distance herself from that life. Yet one thing is stopping her from moving forward: she has questions.

In order to understand her past, Dahlia must go back. Back to her mother in the stifling town of Aurora, Texas. Back into the past of a woman on the brink of madness. But after she discovers three grave-like mounds on a neighbouring farm, she’ll learn that in her mother’s world of secrets, not all questions are meant to be answered…

The Good Daughter is a compelling take on a genre that shows no sign of slowing down. The perfect read for fans of Gillian Flynn and Paula Hawkins.


‘The Good Daughter’ can be pre-ordered from Amazon UK – http://amzn.to/2jlLq7V


Blog Tour – ‘Unknown’ by Phil Price


I am delighted to be taking part in this blog tour today.  ‘Unknown’ was published in paperback on the 1st July 2015 and is also available as an eBook.  I have an extract for you all and there’s a Rafflecopter giveaway at the end of my post.



Chapter 1

Year 10974 (1674 A.D.)

The two prone figures lay in the centre of the scorched field. Any grass or trees were either ashes, or twisted souls looking on at the slaughter. Bodies lay all around as tendrils of smoke caressed their cold limbs, moving slowly across the horseshoe shaped crater. The southern edge of the landscape gave way to a dense forest, whose trees were melded together in a brown and green weave that looked impenetrable. The walls on the east and west of the crater rose up high over the death and destruction, slowly falling at the northern edge where a raging river cut through the land on its way to the sea. The sunset, obscured by a thick blanket of cloud gave the crater a claustrophobic effect. The birds that circled overhead, or that sat in the branches in the trees, looked on with interest, their caw-cawing the only noise to be heard apart from the crackle of tinder.

A giant rook landed on a blackened twisted limb of a tree near the centre of the field, its beady red eyes searching out the best option for a quick meal. He knew what lay around him. Meat was meat. Whether dead, or undead. He hopped down from its perch onto a headless corpse, poking his beak into the cold yellow flesh where the head once rested. Slithers of meat were pulled away from the ragged stump as the rook feasted as fast as he could – before something saw him as a meal option too. He ignored the two corpses further on that lay almost touching. Their capes and tunics distinguishing them from the rest of the carnage. Both bodies were missing limbs. One had lost an arm and both legs below the knee, along with several gaping wounds across the body. The head was almost severed. Only the spinal cord barely held it in place as it lolled unnaturally to one side. The white tunic was now no more than a bloodied rag. The eagle emblem across the chest was covered in chunks of flesh and smears of charred earth. The other corpse had lost a hand and half its left leg. Its body was almost free of punctures, except for one in its chest that still had the sword that inflicted the wound lodged there. The black tunic was also covered in blood while the red spider in the centre of the chest was skewered by the large blade.  The battle was over for now. The next stage of the war was about to begin. Hibernation.  On opposite ends of the tree line, two groups walked through the smoke towards the cape wearing bodies. Their heads bowed as they trooped towards their masters. Two figures split from the packs, coming together in front of the bodies, one dressed in red, one in black.

“Looks like a dead tie. Pardon the pun Elias,” the figure in black whispered.

“So it would seem Torg,” the red clad figure said. They removed their hoods to address each other face to face.

White skin meeting grey skin.

Fangs facing tusks.

The larger black figure looked at the pitiful remains on the floor. “This will take some time. Let’s hope next time they meet it’s finished once and for all. Then our master will rule both lands, and maybe one day the other places. When that day comes my dear Elias, you’ll bow down to him.”

“Only in your sickened dreams Torg,” the red figure spat. “Next time we’ll be ready. He’ll be stronger. Things are already in place. The race is on, my friend, to see who wakes first.”

They beckoned their respective groups forward, hurrying to their masters, a stretcher being laid next to each of them. Carefully, they hoisted the bodies into the gurneys before setting to work binding the lost limbs back into place. The severed head was bound with strips of damp cloth and two wooden splints to hold it in place for the journey home, the limbs likewise until both groups gave a series of satisfied grunts and nods. The sword that protruded from the black figure’s chest was left in place for fear of doing more damage by removing it.

“Deliver that back to us when the time is upon us, for Korgan will not miss the mark next time. Once he’s slain his brother he will close the doors to your land for eternity. Then you can feed only on the mutant beasts that roam that place. Let’s see if that satisfies your hunger.”

Both groups parted to sneers and hisses as they made their way in opposite directions across the crater.

They would not return here until the brothers were ready to finish the feud that had festered for millennia.


About Phil Price


Phil Price was born in Sutton Coldfield in 1974. He lived in various places until his family settled in Rednal, Birmingham in 1979. Growing up with an older brother and sister he always flirted with reading as there were always books lying on shelves around the house. Then in 1997 he embarked on a travel expedition that took him from Greece to Thailand, via East and Southern Africa. Sitting in dusty bus stations in Kenya, Tanzania, and Malawi gave him the opportunity to ignite his imagination fully. Since those far off days he has never been without a book to read.

He toyed with the idea of writing a book in 2009. After writing a few short stories he caught a whiff of a story in his head. It grew and grew in 2010 until he had enough to begin. Marriage and two children came along, with the story being moved to the back burner for periods of time. However during those periods of writing inactivity the story continued to evolve until it just needed to be written down.

The book is littered with places that had influenced Phil’s life. From the Lickey Hills in Birmingham, to the Amatola Mountains in South Africa with other locations, in-between and far beyond.


Purchase Links

Amazon UK – https://www.amazon.co.uk/Phil-Price/dp/1515236757/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1483440933&sr=8-1&keywords=unknown+by+phil+price

Amazon.com – https://www.amazon.com/Phil-Price/dp/1515236757/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1483440983&sr=8-1&keywords=unknown+by+phil+price



Enter this giveaway by clicking on the link below.  The prize is 2 x eBook copies of ‘Unknown’.

a Rafflecopter giveaway


‘Miss Christie Regrets’ by Guy Fraser-Sampson

Congratulations to Guy Fraser-Sampson whose new novel, ‘Miss Christie Regrets’, the second in the Hampstead Murders series is out today. Agatha Christie herself plays a key part in this book so it’s really nice that it has been published on her death anniversary. Makes it kind of special don’t you think. I would like to thank Matthew Smith of Urbane Publications for sending me a proof copy to review.

The story itself opens with a death at an iconic local venue, certainly not something you would expect on a day out. A police investigation commences and it seems that there could be a connection with an unsolved murder featuring Cold War betrayals. But is it just pure coincidence or is there more than meets the eye? It soon emerges that none other than Agatha Christie herself may be the key witness who is able to provide the missing link.

I really enjoyed ‘Death in Profile’, the first book in the series and was looking forward to reading ‘Miss Christie Regrets’. I like Guy Fraser-Sampson’s style of writing. He has such a wonderful and elegant way with words.

You should definitely read ‘Death in Profile’ first in order to get the full benefit of this book as a couple of the storylines are ongoing. It was really nice meeting some of the characters from the previous novel again. I was just dying to know how things were going to develop for DS Karen Willis.

Just as with the first book I enjoyed reading about the police procedurals and I actually felt as if I learnt something. I think it’s ironic that Agatha Christie who wrote all those detective novels should now be mentioned in another author’s book. I mean what a brilliant idea! I reckon that she would have been quite touched with being mentioned in ‘Miss Christie Regrets’.

‘Miss Christie Regrets’ is a classic whodunit, Golden Age crime fiction at its best. It is perfect for people who like reading cosy crime. I actually think that the Hampstead Murders novels would make a really good TV series and I hope it is considered.

The third book in the series, ‘A Whiff of Cyanide’ is due to be published this summer and I eagerly await it.

I give this book 4 out of 5.


‘Miss Christie Regrets’ is available to buy from:-

Urbane Publications – http://urbanepublications.com/books/miss-christie-regrets/

Amazon UK – https://www.amazon.co.uk/d/Books/Miss-Christie-Regrets-Guy-Fraser-Sampson/1911331809/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1484164698&sr=1-1&keywords=miss+christie+regrets


‘Deep Down Dead’ by Steph Broadribb

‘Deep Down Dead’ was published in paperback by Orenda Books on the 5th January 2017 and is also available as an eBook. The first book in the Lori Anderson series, this is Steph Broadribb’s debut novel. I would like to say thank you to Karen Sullivan for very kindly sending me a copy to review.

Lori Anderson, a Florida bounty hunter is as tough as they come. After everything she has been through she has to be. Lori is a single mother to nine-year-old Dakota who is suffering from leukaemia. With the hospital bills starting to mount up she could do with some extra cash and fast. Dakota needs to keep getting treatment. Then Lori is offered a job which isn’t really ideal as she is being assigned to haul back no other than her former mentor, JT who taught her everything she knows, a man who knows the secrets of her past. It’s hard but it’s got to be done as the money being offered is too good to refuse. It sounds like a straightforward pick up which is just as well as she has no choice but to take her daughter along with her. But as Lori is about to find out things aren’t that simple and she soon wonders what she has let herself in for.

Wow! Where do I start? I admit that when I first read the press release I wasn’t too sure if I would like this book even though I love crime fiction. I didn’t know if it would be for me. How wrong was I! I know that the publisher has a real eye for talent so decided to give it a go. The prologue left me totally intrigued and needing to know more. The words literally jumped off the pages and I was drawn right into the story. I found it really hard to put down this book and couldn’t wait for a chance to read more. I have to say, I can’t actually believe that this is a debut novel as the author writes so confidently.

I took an instant liking to Lori. She was a feisty woman who didn’t give up no matter what was thrown at her. Put a gun to her head and she would still be planning her escape even if the chances were slim. She’s my new heroine. It’s such a pity that her little girl had to get caught up in all the drama. There were things that she just shouldn’t have seen. For a nine-year-old she was very brave though. JT was very nice too and I just wished things could have been different. There were also a number of not so nice characters who would give you nightmares for life.  Some of what went on was just pure evil.

‘Deep Down Dead’ is a truly amazing book. It’s an exciting and gripping read with non-stop action. So much is packed into three days. It’s like being on an eternal rollercoaster ride.

If you’re a fan of crime then you have to read this book. But please don’t just take my word for it. Get yourself a copy and lose yourself in it. I really can’t wait for the second book in the series.

This is definitely going to be one of my top books of 2017.

I give this book 5 out of 5.


‘Deep Down Dead’ is available to buy from Amazon UK:-



Interview with Isabel Costello


I am delighted to welcome Isabel Costello to my blog today.  Isabel’s book, ‘Paris Mon Amour’ was published as an eBook last June by Canelo.  I asked Isabel some questions.


Firstly, can you tell me a bit about your debut novel, Paris Mon Amour?

At the heart of the book is the intense affair between 40-year-old Alexandra and a much younger man, Jean-Luc, who’s the son of her husband’s best friend.  It’s definitely a love story first and foremost, but it’s also about family ties, living with the past and what it means to ‘belong’ in another country and culture.  Alexandra is American, her husband Philippe is French and she’s lived in Paris for ten years.


I fell in love with the cover of your book when I first saw it. Who designed it?


Thank you!  I’m thrilled the cover has been such a hit with readers.  It’s the work of Dan Mogford, who specialises in publishing and book cover design.  It made a big difference that Dan really ‘got’ the novel – the smashed lily, based on an image by Australian photographer Anna Thomas, captures the essence of the story perfectly.


What made you decide to write this book?

It arose from my deep frustration at the double standards by which men and women are judged, never more so than when it’s about looks, ageing and sex.  But that doesn’t make a novel – I knew I’d need a strong plot and characters who’d really pull the reader in, and the story took shape fairly quickly.


How long did it take you to write?

About 18 months.  As it was closely based on a short story which already had a complete narrative arc I had a clear idea where I was going with it from the start – that’s how I like to approach a novel.  It was very intense, but I loved writing it.


Did you have to do any research?

Since my main interest is human nature and the way people feel and behave in different situations, life experience is more important to my writing than ‘book research’ – sometimes it’s an advantage being a mature debut author! But I did a lot of on-site research in Paris, even though I already knew the city well.  Rather than rehashing the tourist version, I wanted to see it through my character’s eyes and gain a deeper understanding by talking to people who live there.


Can you relate to any of your characters?

Paris Mon Amour is a frank first person narrative dealing with sensitive and exposing issues, and I couldn’t have written it without feeling for my protagonist Alexandra.  Although the novel isn’t autobiographical in the obvious sense, there’s a fair bit of me in her, but many aspects of her personality and experience demanded a lot of imagination.  Going deeply into my characters’ heads is the part I enjoy most – I’ve always wondered what it would be like to be someone else.


How easy was it to get your book published?

‘Easy’ is not a word I associate with getting published and following several near misses, this book nearly didn’t make it out there.  But perseverance is essential, and so is having people willing to believe and invest in your work.   I’m lucky to have a very committed agent and publisher who’ve enabled me to share Alexandra’s story with readers.


What are you working on now?

I’m currently outlining my next novel, also set in Paris, and will start my first draft in the new year.  Suddenly it’s really coming together, which is exciting!


Have you been given any good advice about writing?

The best was from Lionel Shriver, who said ‘write what matters to you – it’s the only way you can be certain your time is well spent’. The advice to ‘take risks’ and ‘be bold’ also resonates and just as well, as I seem to be naturally drawn to subjects people often avoid talking about.


What do you like to do in your spare time?

I love swimming and walking, cooking, art, cinema – and reading, of course.  Running the Literary Sofa takes up a lot of my time but it’s a labour of love.


If you could have dinner with just one author, who would it be?

That is SO hard to answer!  My first instinct was to choose a certain male novelist I’ve already met, but instead I’m going to go with the author I’d most like to meet: A M (Amy) Homes.  I love her writing (especially This Book Will Change Your Life), she’s smart and witty and I reckon she’d be fun and interesting to talk to.  And if we get to do it in New York City, that would be a bonus!


About Isabel Costello

Isabel Costello’s debut novel Paris Mon Amour is available in digital (Canelo) in the UK, USA and Canada and in audiobook worldwide (Audible). She hosts the Literary Sofa blog, where you can find her new quarterly book selection, the Winter 2016 Sofa Spotlight.  She’s also on Twitter @isabelcostello


‘Paris Mon Amour’ is available to buy from Amazon UK:-



Happy New Year!


I would like to wish all my readers a vey Happy New Year.  There’s always something so very nice about the 1st of January.  It’s a chance to wipe the slate clean and to make lots of lovely plans.  My aim this year is to be much more positive and to try and live each day to the full.

I have met some wonderful book bloggers, authors and publishers at various book events and this year I plan to go to lots more.  It’s such a great way to socialise.  I am also going to organise myself better and read as much as I can.  I have so many fabulous books to tell you all about.

I hope you enjoy my posts this year.


Love from Sonya xx


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